1997 – Today
Winning the Formula Holden Championship in 1997 led to a drive in Tassie with GRM after Steve Richards, who was also competing in the two-litre series, had to skip that round.
I decided to go with SBR and we managed to get a few podiums during the series and won Bathurst, which was pretty good. I stayed there in 1999 until I decided to give open-wheelers another crack in 2000.
The race was saturated but what I thought was bad luck initially, having my first race in the wet, turned out to be good luck as I happened to be on the best tyres for the weekend. That race alone led to a drive in the enduros for SBR that year and offers from GRM and SBR for 1998.
I came back that year for the enduros and drove for DJR at Bathurst, getting another podium. It was then I got offered a contract by HRT to replace Craig Lowndes, who was going to Ford the following year. That contract gave me the option to pursue my American career up until January 15 so I signed in November.
HRT was the benchmark in V8s and had a lot of success with Skaife and Lowndes. It was a big pair of boots to fill but I managed to get the monkey off my back pretty early by winning Clipsal. Then I had trouble getting the car to work for me at a lot of the tracks and it wasn’t until late 2001, when I had some new components, that I got on the pace. By then, though, we had lost the championship.
2002 was probably a better year results-wise but I didn’t finish as well in the championship. At the end of that year I was offered the opportunity to head up Team Brock with Phil Keed as my engineer. It allowed me to concentrate more on driving and car set up, whereas driving for a factory team is very busy on race weekends.
We came out of the gate alright, despite driving the older model VX Commodore, getting pole at Clipsal and winning the AGP support race. Then, as time went on, other cars started to come on a lot stronger and I was held back by the older car and engine.
Team Brock only lasted one year and then became PWR run by Kees Weel, which was probably the best crack I’ve had at the championship. We were very strong that year and deserved a better result than history shows; we were certainly the best Holden car out there and had very good pace at all the rounds. In the end though Ambrose was very quick and we had a shocking time at the enduros and then got put in the wall at Indy.
In 2005 I started driving for FPR in the CAT Falcon because at the time I was setting up my own team, Britek Motorsport, and Ford offered me a five-year contract for my own enterprise if I drove for its factory team for two years.
My time at FPR was very enjoyable although challenging because it was a team that had been struggling quite a bit despite having all the right resources to fix any problems. By the end of the first season I felt that we were quite competitive and went into 2006 confident that we could be a contender in races and the championship. Unfortunately the championship didn’t start off very well with a disastrous run at Clipsal and New Zealand leaving me with plenty of ground to make up. By mid-year we were in contention to get pole and wins, which we did, but unfortunately it was too little too late.
I left in 2006 purely because I wanted to drive for my own team and to give Britek a proper chance. 2007 started off quite well and I was happy with where we were running initially, which was in the 8th-15th bracket with a reasonable amount of improvements to come. During that season we probably lacked a bit of engine performance due to budget but we had a good run at Bathurst 2007. We were running in third with perfect strategy and a very fast car but it was still wet across the top of the mountain. When the whole group of us came across I saw initially Frosty was in trouble in front of me. He touched the wall, so I did, Skaife and Ingall and unfortunately it was enough damage to put us out of the race.
By the end of the season Ford indicated its intention to pull out, which slowed our future development. We still had new components and a new engine for the 2008 season but with a lot of other teams becoming customers of front-running teams our performance improvements did not translate into track results as the standards had gone up a level.
With Ford pulling its funding at the end of 2007 it wasn’t viable to run Britek as a standalone operation going forward so I decided to run as a customer at Stone Brothers Racing. We started the year in the older model BF Falcon due to time frame constraints in building the third car at SBR. Whilst I hoped this would be an advantage early in the season, as it was with Team Brock in 2003, it wasn’t to be the case. It wasn’t until we received the FG Falcon in Townsville that allowed us to compete regularly for top ten positions and podiums.